Spring Awakens on stage

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Youngsters from across West Sussex converge on Horsham to perform the controversial musical Spring Awakening at the Capitol (May 11-13, tickets on 01403 750220).

The show is the latest outing for the West Sussex County Youth Theatre, in association with OnO Theatre Company.

Company spokeswoman Jennifer Judd said: “Frank Wedekind’s original tragedy was banned when it was first written in 1891. It didn’t premiere for 14 years. The play reveals the then sexually-repressive culture of Germany and its effect on young people growing up.

“This new musical version has achieved cult status with young audiences and has been dubbed a musical version of the channel 4 series Skins. The play is brutally honest, challenging, a protest against society and an anthem for every young person.”

With an alt-rock soundtrack from Duncan Sheik, the musical picked up eight Tonys on Broadway. After the Lyric Hammersmith took the risk to transfer it in 2009, its run in the West End won four Oliver Awards.

Will McGovern, aged 20, of Chichester, who plays Georg, said: “I’m so excited to be part of this musical. It’s great to perform something that is still so current in today’s society.”

Lizzie Jay (16), from Worthing, who plays the female lead Wendla, said: “My favourite part has to be the music. I love the alternative rock soundtrack. It helps to make the musical modern and appealing to young people.”

Laurence Baker (17), from Horsham, who plays Ernst in the play, said: “I’m excited to perform this musical in my home town especially as it has a lot of brilliant songs and the subject matter is relevant to young people today”

Morgan Kemeys (19), from Crawley, who plays the male lead Melchior, said: “I have always wanted to perform this musical as it’s so relevant to young people. Being part of a company like this has given me the confidence and the skills to move forward with my acting career.”

West Sussex County Youth Theatre is one of the last remaining county council-funded youth theatres in existence.

Producer Anne Fenton said: “With the changes that effect young people in society today, it is timely to present a musical that gives this new generation a voice. Whilst the content

may have been controversial to a less enlightened adult audience, the company feel it’s the right time to highlight the issues that for young people today.”